"It's almost too dark to see," said Andrew, coming up from the beach.
"One can hardly tell which is the sea and which is the land," said Prue.
"Do we leave that light burning?" said Lily as they took their coats offindoors.
"No," said Prue, "not if every one's in.""Andrew," she called back, "just put out the light in the hall."One by one the lamps were all extinguished, except that Mr Carmichael,who liked to lie awake a little reading Virgil, kept his candle burningrather longer than the rest.
So with the lamps all put out, the moon sunk, and a thin rain drummingon the roof a downpouring of immense darkness began. Nothing, itseemed, could survive the flood, the profusion of darkness which, creepingin at keyholes and crevices, stole round window blinds, came intobedrooms, swallowed up here a jug and basin, there a bowl of red andyellow dahlias, there the sharp edges and firm bulk of a chest of drawers.
Not only was furniture confounded; there was scarcely anything left ofbody or mind by which one could say, "This is he" or "This is she." Sometimesa hand was raised as if to clutch something or ward off something,or somebody groaned, or somebody laughed aloud as if sharing a jokewith nothingness.
Nothing stirred in the drawing-room or in the dining-room or on thestaircase. Only through the rusty hinges and swollen sea-moistenedwoodwork certain airs, detached from the body of the wind (the housewas ramshackle after all) crept round corners and ventured indoors. Almostone might imagine them, as they entered the drawing-room questioningand wondering, toying with the flap of hanging wall-paper, asking,would it hang much longer, when would it fall? Then smoothlybrushing the walls, they passed on musingly as if asking the red and yellowroses on the wall-paper whether they would fade, and questioning(gently, for there was time at their disposal) the torn letters in thewastepaper basket, the flowers, the books, all of which were now open tothem and asking, Were they allies? Were they enemies? How long wouldthey endure?
So some random light directing them with its pale footfall upon stairand mat, from some uncovered star, or wandering ship, or the Lighthouseeven, with its pale footfall upon stair and mat, the little airs mountedthe staircase and nosed round bedroom doors. But here surely, theymust cease. Whatever else may perish and disappear, what lies here issteadfast. Here one might say to those sliding lights, those fumbling airsthat breathe and bend over the bed itself, here you can neither touch nordestroy. Upon which, wearily, ghostlily, as if they had feather-light fingersand the light persistency of feathers, they would look, once, on theshut eyes, and the loosely clasping fingers, and fold their garments wearilyand disappear. And so, nosing, rubbing, they went to the window onthe staircase, to the servants' bedrooms, to the boxes in the attics; descending,blanched the apples on the dining-room table, fumbled thepetals of roses, tried the picture on the easel, brushed the mat and blew alittle sand along the floor. At length, desisting, all ceased together,gathered together, all sighed together; all together gave off an aimlessgust of lamentation to which some door in the kitchen replied; swungwide; admitted nothing; and slammed to.